Rishabh Pant, 19, is not an unknown name now. After his run in the ICC U-19 World Cup, which made him a big buy in the IPL auctions, Pant promised with little cameos in the IPL but his best was yet to be seen. Having made his Ranji Trophy debut late in the 2015-16 season, there were only sparks of the fireworks to follow. The left-hander paid very little respect to international spinners like Pragyan Ojha, and had no hesitation in dancing down the track and hitting them clean, and big.
The clean and big template continued and the left-hander had intent on his mind when he wore the Delhi jersey for the 2016-17 season. A hundred in the opening game against Assam announced his arrival and it was followed by a record-breaking triple hundred against Maharashtra. The runs and tons continued and Pant caught the eye of the selectors. He was on the radar and his twin tons against Jharkhand further added weight to his case.
Pant continued with the intent throughout the season. After an early dose by coach KP Bhaskar, where the youngster was told to make it big and convert hundreds into big one, Pant ensured to make it big. What didn’t change was his hunger to score tons, and score them at a very healthy strike rate. He hit as many as 49 sixes this season and the second best to him is Ishan Kishan who hit 36 in four more innings than Pant.
Initially ignore in junior age groups by Delhi, Pant made his chances count in what was the breakthrough year for the youngster. He made it big in the junior domestic season preceding the U-19 World Cup last year and was rewarded with a senior team call. Absence of a good stumper in the Delhi circuit improved his chances and made him a regular late in the 2015-16 season. The IPL to follow wasn’t that exciting but interesting enough to keep everyone keeping a tab on him interested. The 19-year-old was disappointed to miss on the India A tour to Australia and he made sure that runs from the bat in the season to follow would add a lot of weight to his case.
That happened and Pant now finds himself in India’s T20I squad for the three matches against England. He’s also in one of the warm-up teams and the selectors would definitely test the youngster in the format where he is expected to enjoy a lot of success. A clean range of shots and enough muscle to hit them all the way make him an exciting prospect. Not to forget his decent glovework behind the stumps.
India ODI squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Lokesh Rahul, Shikhar Dhawan, Manish Pandey, Kedar Jadhav, Yuvraj Singh, Ajinkya Rahane, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Amit Mishra, Jaspreet Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Umesh Yadav.
India Twenty20 squad: Virat Kohli (captain), Mahendra Singh Dhoni (wicketkeeper), Mandeep Singh, Lokesh Rahul, Yuvraj Singh, Suresh Raina, Rishabh Pant, Hardik Pandya, Ravichandran Ashwin, Ravindra Jadeja, Yuzvendra Chahal, Manish Pandey, Jaspreet Bumrah, Bhuvneshwar Kumar, Ashish Nehra.